LOUISVILLE, Ky. – University of Louisville men’s basketball’s Russ Smith is holding his ground as one of the best players in college basketball. The senior is one of 30 student-athletes who comprise Naismith Men’s Player of the Year Midseason list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.

The midseason list is dominated by 18 guard-only players.

The Brooklyn, N.Y., native is averaging 18.3 points this season to pace the Cardinals (19-4, 8-2 AAC) and also has team highs in 3-pointers made (50), assists (108), and steals (41). He has scored in double figures in each game this season, including eight performances with at least 20 points. He registered a career-best 36 against North Carolina in late November.

Recently, Smith became one of just four players in school history to reach career totals of 1,600 points, 300 assists, and 200 steals. He placed himself in elite company with Darrell Griffith, DeJuan Wheat, and LaBradford Smith.

In conference play, Smith is scoring 20.1 points per game, second best in the AAC, while shooting 53.1 percent from 3-point range to rank No. 2 in the league. He is registering two steals per game, the third-best mark in the conference, while dishing out the fifth-most assists at 4.4 per contest.

The American Athletic Conference Preseason Player of the Year, Smith became the school’s first preseason AP All-America selection since Pervis Ellison in 1986. Smith also is on the Wooden Award’s Midseason Watch List and is a Senior CLASS Award finalist.

No. 13/8 Louisville is slated to play at Temple on Friday in Philadelphia, Pa. Time for the rescheduled game has yet to be announced.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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